Cinema Review: Ted

DIR: Seth MacFarlane  WRI: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild  PRO: Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, Wellesley Wild  DOP: Michael Barrett  ED: Jeff Freeman  DES: Stephen J. Lineweaver  CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane

Back when he was a boy, John Bennett (Wahlberg) made a Christmas wish: for his new teddy bear to come alive and be his bestest ever friend. Amazingly, that wish came true and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) was an instant celebrity (for a while at least), but never stopped doing his job: being John’s best ted.

John is now 35, and he’s been going out with Lori (Kunis) for four years. She’s got a proper office job and a boss (Seth McHale) who fancies her, while John is always late for work at his crappy car rental place. The reason? He’s always partying or messing around with Ted, and while Lori certainly has a sense of humor, she does think that maybe it’s time to grow up a bit. You know, maybe stop playing with the teddy bear and put down the bong once in a while?

So eventually, Ted moves out and gets his own place. He decorates it courtesy of Ikea, gets a supermarket job and even a ditzy blond girlfriend. But best buds are best buds – fur or no fur – and John keeps being drawn back into Ted’s wild world. When he skips out on Lori at an important office do in order to meet his and Ted’s all-time movie superhero in the flesh (I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s someone from the 1980s), Lori has had enough. John and Ted fall out too – a great fight in a hotel room – but can John man up, win Lori back and still be friends with Ted?

As you can tell, Ted is a pretty simple story. Director/co-writer/co-producer/Ted’s voice Seth MacFarlane is the driving force behind Family Guy, the snappier, sharper and cruder modern version of The Simpsons, and fans will recognize many of the actors here by their voices and be very familiar with the non-sequiturs, 80s references, spoofs, musical cues and, of course, a spicy dash of offensiveness (some of which is laugh-out-loud, even when it’s throwaway).

Therein lie the strengths – and weaknesses – of Ted, and sadly the latter outweigh the former. The story is so slight, the focus so awkwardly bouncing between the conventional romcom/drama story of John and Lori and the inherent humour in (and desire to see) a crude, talking bear. The two just don’t blend well in that way, and with so many ideas left hanging or included for no apparent reason other than a gag (and one particular one involving Ted that seemed a last minute idea about ‘who’s the bad guy?’), it all falls rather flat.

Ultimately, if you’re a Family Guy fan – and I am – you’re going to enjoy this just enough; it really is essentially just Peter Griffin and Brian the dog in disguise. If not, then you might find it a rather tedious mess; these characters come from a mind that’s used to writing 22-minute television programmes that have to go to the break on a joke or a cliffhanger; a film requires much more than that.

James Bartlett

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
106 mins

Ted is released on 3rd August 2012

Ted – Official Website


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